Short FAQ.

Dr.Hayward's

Spinal Clinic

Provides specialist assessment and treatment for the full range of spinal problems.

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal Stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal which holds the spinal cord or the nerves. The narrowing may be caused by age related changes of the spine such as disc degeneration and arthritis causing a bone buildup in and around the canal and nerve holes producing nerve compression. The compression of the nerves causes arm or leg symptoms such as numbness, weakness, or pain.

What is the treatment for spinal stenosis?

Conservative therapy may relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis. If not, a spinal decompression is necessary. This is the removal of the bony narrowing around nerves. The operative strategy will depend not only on the location of the spinal narrowing, and the relative stability and condition of the spine as a whole.

My doctor told me that I have arthritis of my spine and that I should learn to live with the pain. Is this true?

Generally, the pain associated with arthritis can be managed with conservative therapies, exercise, and medication. Read more about conservative therapies for back pain.

When is surgery necessary for patients with spine problems?

Surgery is only indicated if conservative therapy fails, the patient becomes dysfunctional, or the patient should experience progressive neurological problems.

What is a laminectomy?

A laminectomy is the removal of a small portion of the vertebra, (lamina) around the affected area. This is done to relieve pressure on the nerve roots.

My spinal specialist said I need a fusion. Is that true?

A fusion is recommended if there is spinal deformity or instability, or if the spine will become unstable due to the removal of the disc or bone.

If I have a fusion does that mean I will never be able to bend?

No. Very little bending capacity comes from the spine. It is from the hips.

My spinal specialist said he would be using implants in my spine. Is this really necessary?

The spinal instrumentation serves two purposes. First, it allows the surgeon to restore the alignment and balance of your spine. Secondly, the instrumentation acts as an internal brace, stabilizing the spine while the bone fusion grows.

Does it matter what screws and rods my surgeon uses?

There are differences in the instrumentation on the market. Your surgeon will select the instrumentation based on the procedure.

Will fusing my spine cause damage to adjacent areas?

That is an excellent question. In a one level fusion, there is little impact on the spine. In a multi-level fusion, the major concern about a fusion is adjacent segment degeneration. The discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebras. When the spine is fused, the discs above or below the fusion may absorb the sheer force from every day motion, and thus wear out. When the fusion is performed it is essential that the balance of the spine is maintained. If this is done, the adjacent segments are at less risk of degeneration.

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